2 July 2020 | Report

Investigating Gendered Social Norms Affecting Women’s Economic Participation Related to Recruitment and Promotion in Vietnam


This report presents findings of CARE International in Vietnam’s research on gendered social norms and how they limit women’s economic participation as factory workers and office workers in Vietnam. The research employs CARE International’s Social Norms Analysis Plot Framework, which can be used to define the components and assess the strength of a norm and the ways norms may have shifted over time.
The CARE research was carried out through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with 485 respondents in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Hau Giang and Thai Nguyen. These respondents were employees from the garment, food processing, banking, IT and electricity firms and the perceived reference groups of these employees. The research period was November 2019 to March 2020.
Key Findings
The perception that “women should be primarily responsible for child and family caretaking” is a norm that influences women and managers as decision makers in recruitment and promotion.
The perception that “women should not be in leadership positions within the workplace” is a weak norm, with women allowed some flexibility in complying with it as long as they are able to fulfil their perceived primary role of caring for children and the family.
The perception that “only men should be hired for technical jobs” is a personal belief heavily informed by the norm that “women should be the primary caregiver.”
The research report also examines the degree of tolerance for exceptions to the relevant norms and the level of sanctions that can be imposed. The research also explores the degree of influence sanctions can have on compliance with the norms.
In order to facilitate social norm change, the report identifies some of the related structural factors that influence the operating environment. There are opportunities to leverage such existing enablers of change to positively shift gender norms, including:
Support from the reference groups (especially husband or partner).
Migration away from families (especially from North to South).
Economic pressure or perceived promise of better future.
Early adopters of progressive and gender-responsive workplace practices.
Key concepts
Executive summary
Research background
Research focus: gendered social norms in recruitment and promotion
Theoretical overview of social norms
Research framework and methodology
CARE’s Social Norms Analysis Plot (SNAP) framework
Research sampling methods: locations, sectors and participants
Ethical considerations
Research limitations
Research findings
Social norm: Women should be primarily responsible for child and family caretaking (caregiving norm)
Social norm: Women should not be in leadership positions within a workplace (leadership norm)
Attitude: Men are more suitable for technical jobs than women
Annex 1: Research matrix
Annex 2: Consent form
Annex 3: Sample size for tool testing
Annex 4: Summary of sample size from data collection
Annex 5: Demographic information of research participants
Annex 6: Research tools
This report was originally published on the CARE International in Vietnam website.


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